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Prepare an annotated bibliography: Content

  • An annotated bibliography is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. Sometimes this annotation includes a description of what research tools were used to locate the items.
  • PLEASE NOTE: This is merely a general guide for creating annotated bibliographies. Be sure to consult your instructor regarding your specific assignment requirements!

Abstracts are purely descriptive summaries often found at the beginning of scholarly journal articles or in periodical indexes. Annotations are descriptive and critical; they expose the author's point of view, clarity and appropriateness of expression, and authority.

Creating an annotated bibliography calls for the application of a variety of skills, including concise yet thorough description and analysis, and informed library research.

  1. First, locate and record citations to books, periodicals, and documents that may contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
  2. Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style (see below).
  3. Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that
    1. evaluate the authority or background of the author
    2. comment on the intended audience
    3. compare or contrast this work with another you have cited
    4. explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic
  • For guidance in critically appraising and analyzing the sources for your bibliography, see Evaluating Information Sources.
  • For information on the author's background and views, ask at the reference desk for suggestions of appropriate biographical reference materials
  • Style manuals for MLA, APA and other formats are kept in the Mortola and Birnbaum Library collections
  • You can also refer to our online guide for Citing Resources

The following example uses the APA format for the journal citation:

Goldschneider, F. K., Waite, L. J., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51(4), 541-554.

The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

The Librarians at the Pace University Library wish to thank Michael Engle and the Librarians of the Reference Services Division of the Olin-Krock-Uris Libraries at Cornell University for granting us permission to adapt their "How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography" for use by the Pace University Community. Any errors within these pages are ours alone.


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